INSIDE COP21: COUNTDOWN IN PARIS

COP21 In our special coverage from the summit in Paris, we learn that pressure is building to deliver a long-awaited new global climate agreement and that Vattenfall’s CEO is making a case for carbon pricing.

Down to 29 pages: That is the main message on Wednesday in Paris, on Day Ten of the climate conference COP21. A new draft version of the Paris Agreement has been presented, and it is substantially shorter than the previous ones (which had 50 pages). The options for each topic, marked by brackets in the text, have been reduced significantly. Three quarters of the brackets had been taken out, says COP21 President Laurent Fabius. "So that is a lot better, but it is still too many."

A countdown in brackets and pages, to measure the progress towards a new climate agreement for the world. The pressure is high on the delegates, they know about the expectations on them. If they want to be reminded, they can go to the exhibition "Climate Generations" at the conference centre in Le Bourget and visit the large tree in the entrance hall. Its hundreds and thousands of leafs are small sheets with comments from people who want to see a powerful signal from Paris. "Make a difference!” one says, another one "Let's go now to 100% Renewables". One calls for "Climate justice for climate refugees", one writes "Dont't cut the tree, we want to save the world and our life".

While I am reading the leafs of the climate tree, some of my colleagues are in another hall in Le Bourget and listen to our CEO and his views on the future. Vattenfall's Magnus Hall has come to Paris to talk - "and even more to listen", he says. "What is discussed and decided here is important for all of us, and it is especially important for the energy sector."

Vattenfall is in the middle of a radical change and has high ambitions to grow in renewable production, Magnus Hall says. He sees one important driver for this: "We need a high price for CO2 in Europe and the whole world to make the transformation towards low-carbon energy production economically viable."

 

Carbon pricing is mentioned in the draft Paris Agreement as an "important instrument" to provide "incentives for emission reduction activities". But the details are left open in the text, it will be up to the countries to decide on the best instruments to make emissions expensive.

While existing schemes like the EU Emission Trading System ETS have not yet succeeded in bringing the carbon price up, Magnus Hall sees indications for a new thinking. "I have listened to investors here in Paris and understood that there definitely is an increased awareness of the risks connected to investments in fossil based production," he says. "More money will go into renewables."

Fossil-free energy production is also popular among the visitors at the Climate Generations exhibition. Guests at the "Energy Juice Bar" are generating the electricity for the mixer themselves by pedaling before they enjoy their drink.

Not far from that, the environmental organisation WWF has set up a large poster with a message for the negotiations: "2 degrés c'est déjà trop", it states in French, "2 degrees is already too much".

This is a topic of the Paris Agreement that still has options in the draft text: The world should aim for limiting global warming either "below 2 °C above pre-industrial level", "well below 2 °C" or even "below 1.5 °C", acknowledging the prognosis that already a temperature increase by two degrees will have disastrous effects in some parts of the world.

The delegates in Paris know how important their decisions are. As it is stated on one of the leafs of the climate tree: "Now we are shaping the future".

Vattenfall’s coverage of the COP21 climate change talks in Paris
Vattenfall's Head of Communications Ivo Banek is attending the climate conference COP21 in Paris as 
an observer. Here, he writes about his personal impressions.
Follow him on Twitter for live coverage
All about COP21 and Vattenfall at the climate meeting

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